Mumbai police starts enforcing hookah ban: Arrests Kandivali restaurant owner, 5 staffers for violation
Barely four days after the state-wide ban on hookah parlours came into effect, police have registered the first FIR under the amended act and arrested a restaurant owner from Kandivali for violating its provisions.
A team under the supervision of zonal DCP Sangramsinh Nishandar conducted a raid at Chilly & Spice restaurant, located at Mahavir Nagar in Kandivali, on Sunday after receiving tip-off about hookah being served in the premises.
Since the restaurant would lock the main entrance and allow customers through the kitchen, two policemen entered the premises in plain clothes yesterday night.
After studying their operation, which involved preparing hookah on the terrace and serving it to customers seated in the floor below, the officials alerted the second team.
In no time, a team of policemen stormed into the restaurant and arrested restaurant owner Shabbir Shaikh, manager Debu Shah and waiters Santosh Yadav, Mumtaz Shaikh, Mahadev Yadav, and Santosh Yadav.
The six men, booked under the amended Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition and Distribution) Act (COTPA), 2003, face up to Rs 1 lakh fine and up to three years in jail if found guilty.
Incidentally, restaurants could technically serve hookah or sheesha in a separate smoking section under the previous law. However, the amended act prohibits serving hookah altogether.
DCP Nishandar also told a leading daily that customers who were in the restaurant at the time of raid will become witnesses since the law treats them as victims.
In addition to the arrests, cops also reportedly seized seven hookah pots, seven pipes, hookah flavours and around Rs 2,200 in cash from the premises.
The Maharashtra government on Thursday issued a notification imposing a blanket ban on hookah parlours in the state.
The bill to regulate hookah parlours by amending COTPA was passed by both houses of the state legislature in April and approved by President Ram Nath Kovind last week.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had called for a legislation to regulate and shut hookah parlours in the state following the Kamala Mills blaze in December last year.
14 people lost their lives in the fire, which the Mumbai Fire Brigade said was caused due to flying embers from charcoal used in illegal hookah at Mojo’s Bistro.